Brian David Mitchell stalked other girls, doctor says

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 8 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

Drawing of psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, right, on the stand during a hearing to determine if Brian David Mitchell is competent.

Joshua Fronk, Deseret News

Two FBI agents grilled Brian David Mitchell during an intense interrogation shortly after the man accused of kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart was found in 2003.

At times, the agents got directly in Mitchell's face, yelling at him that he was not of God, and nowhere did God preach kidnapping and abusing young girls.

Mitchell, however, looked composed and relaxed, even slouching in his chair and at times propping his feet up on another chair.

"He dispatches the questions they have like a matador," Dr. Michael Welner said, reacting Monday to a videotape of the interrogation.

Welner testified during the sixth day of a hearing in federal court to determine if Mitchell is competent to stand trial. It was Welner's second full day of testimony.

Welner talked about a wide range of topics Monday, including Mitchell's apparent history of pedophilia. He said Mitchell was looking for a young girl to kidnap before Elizabeth.

"He was stalking girls all over Salt Lake City before kidnapping Elizabeth Smart. The reason he didn't do it (kidnap others), he couldn't figure out where they lived," said Welner.

Welner said Mitchell would become fixated with other victims but could never follow through because he didn't know their addresses. That changed for him, however, when the Smart family hired Mitchell, then posing as a drifting handyman known only as "Immanuel," to do some work for them at their home.

"This is how (Elizabeth) ultimately came to be targeted," he said.

Welner also discussed Mitchell's alleged attempts to kidnap a teenage cousin of Elizabeth Smart from the girl's Cottonwood Heights home and an alleged plot to kidnap a 12-year-old daughter of a man Mitchell met at an LDS meetinghouse in California.

Through interviews with Elizabeth Smart, Welner said he also learned about another Mitchell plot during the time he held her captive. He said Mitchell came up with a plan of "attacking a girls camp with machetes" to kidnap other young girls to become his wives.

Welner is the author of a 205-page report that is believed to be the most extensive study of Mitchell to date. In it, Welner concludes that Mitchell is competent to stand trial. He also describes Mitchell as manipulative and calculating and that Mitchell uses religion as a way to get what he wants, including sex.

He believes Mitchell suffers from pedophilia, an antisocial personality disorder, psychopathy, malingering (faking an illness to avoid prosecution) and a narcissistic personality disorder. But he does not have a delusional disorder or psychotic mental illness, Welner said.

During his testimony Monday, Welner was shown nearly an hour of the videotaped interview the FBI conducted with Mitchell. In Welner's opinion, Mitchell was the one controlling the interview.

"The goal here is to suffocate the interview," said Welner. "He's quick. He's Johnny-on-the-spot. He always has an answer."

Mitchell confidently deflected questions about how Smart was kidnapped by saying God delivered her to him and told him to receive her as his wife.

Mitchell avoided answering questions about having sex with her. He also seemed fully aware of what the agents were doing, telling an agent at one point, "Every single one of your questions is designed to entrap me."

At another point during the interview, Mitchell accused the agents of changing their tactics against him, first accusing him of being a false prophet but later trying to use flattery to try to get him to talk.

"Brian Mitchell is so strong-minded that it's the experienced officers who lose control," Welner said.

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